Travels and Conversations with Daaji: Bangalore, 9 – 11 April 2018
Daaji reached Bangalore on 9 April around lunchtime. It had so far been a long journey covering three states and approximately 1800 kilometres of road meeting thousands of meditators. He took a well-deserved rest, spending time with his family, but work never seems to leave him. So after a brief rest, he was working again.
God as a Principle
Some time during the day, in an informal discussion, Daaji was wondering how to measure the activity in the spinal cord. He was relating this to the way EEG measurements are taken to quantify brain activity, which can be linked to active versus passive states of mind. A topic for researchers to think about!
Speaking about the brain, Daaji mentioned that meditation improves many of the brain functions, such as better regulation of the amygdala, hippocampus and pre-frontal cortex. The discussion turned towards the idea of God. He said, “Many times I have wondered why they introduced the idea of God in meditation. If you remove God, then who will meditate? Often, I feel it is a carrot given, otherwise we don’t need a person like God anywhere. God as a person does not exist.
“Principles were created at the time of creation, which follows its own physical laws, for example, gravitation. I throw a ball. It falls back. Nothing in the world can change that phenomenon. Similarly, there is the Law of Inertia. These are all principles. The emotional inner world also has principles, for example, if you don’t have interest in a subject then it will bounce. Somehow the brain will resist even getting the idea. It will keep rejecting it all the time.
“So, how does this interest principle come? How do I become interested in certain things and not in other things? That’s when samskaras come into the picture. We are predisposed, as certain cognates are there in the memory. If we like something, or used to like it, we go into it. Similarly, if we dislike it, there is an aversion. These are all principles.
“Love is another principle. The principle of love creates harmony. When we bring God into the picture we bring much more than interest, and much more than love. We start revering, we start worshipping from inside. We create a different attitude, and it operates on a different principle. We say that God is omnipresent and yet He chooses not to act when a crime is being committed. Why is God not acting? God does not exist as a person. God is a principle. There are certain laws or principles. Follow the laws and your life will be fulfilled according to them. If you go against those laws you will face the consequences. Natural laws and natural principles guide us to elevate ourselves, become better & operate from higher and higher levels of principles?”
Around 11:00 a.m. Daaji decided to meet a group of teachers who were participating in the INSPIRE Teachers’ Training Program at Paramdham. The cool breeze and celebrative atmosphere at Paramdham saw a joyous and insightful session. Daaji conducted meditation and briefly addressed the teachers. Here are some excerpts from the talk.
“Dear sisters and brothers, I am very good with people who are already meditating. I can talk on that subject at length. Though my most favourite topic is this: if I were to relive my life again, I would become a teacher by choice, for many reasons. I won’t go into details, but seeing the situation in society today, most parents do not have time to create or design the destiny of their very home, their children. They are too busy. What will happen to such a society if teachers also ignore them? So, I think more and more that teachers are playing a crucial role in the lives of students. Without effective teaching … I don’t mean the way we have been feeding children with information. I am not talking about that sort of education, but helping students to become something they can be proud of.
“What are we trying to teach children? Something much more is required than feeding information. And what is that? Interest. To my heart, it is to create that fire in children, the restlessness to learn more, to become something worthwhile, to create interest. Once we create interest in their hearts, they will observe whatever is being taught like a sponge. How to create interest? By ourselves showcasing that interest.
“Let us recollect our childhood days when we were taught by various teachers. One or two teachers stand out in our minds and we feel like touching their feet. We wish we had the opportunity of revisiting these teachers and expressing gratitude and thanks to them. At times we end up praying for such individuals: ‘May God bless them. Because of them, I am what I am today.’ We have to create that sort of a relationship with students, so that in the future they remember, ‘Oh, I remember Ma’am who taught me in year 5 and I owe a lot to her.’ Automatically they bow down to such a person, you see. It is said that it is better to teach a man how to fish than to buy him fish every day. No point in feeding information every day; the art of learning has to be taught, so that students will always be absorbing newer things, things that you have not thought of also. You will be wondering after a few years, ‘Oh, when did we learn this?’”
Daaji gave an example of how to enable children and become effective learners.
“You can conduct a small experiment. I often tell children to always stay ahead of the class by two or three chapters in the textbook. So when they are already familiar with the subject matter, and when you are teaching them, they are already focused. They’re fully aware of what is being taught. And they’ll pay more attention to those things they have not been able to understand. If I have read chapter 5, when the teacher comes to it in class, because I know what is difficult in chapter 5, I will pay more attention to it.
“So, I would like you to tell the children, ‘Pay attention to such and such a chapter. I am going to teach that chapter tomorrow. Come prepared. Even just a slight exposure helps. You need not go through every word of it. Even if you look at the pictures.’ And this way, I think with very little effort they’ll be able to learn much more. The primary thing is to inculcate so much interest in their hearts.”
At the end of the talk, he invited questions from the teachers. There were no questions, so he ended the session with a big smile saying, “Thank you for not asking questions.” He had given them a lot of homework to think about!
In the evening, Daaji was with his family and ended up handling his core business! A senior executive from a large corporation met him, and this man was exploring religion and spirituality. Daaji patiently heard him for about fifteen to twenty minutes on his personal practices and thoughts on God and Guru. The session was very insightful. At some point in the conversation there was a discussion on the yatra that people take up, travelling to the Ganges and visiting Himalayan temples. Daaji mentioned that the true intention in such act is to remind us that the Ganges is about purity and purification of the heart. The mountains remind us of the elevation that’s possible for human life. He recalled Kabir’s statement that if the water of the river Ganges could alone purify and liberate us, then all the fishes in the Ganges would have been liberated by now. Here are some excerpts from the session.
Talking about God
“God is omnipotent – sarvashaktiman, omnipresent – sarvavyapi and omniscient – sarvagyani. These things are inculcated in us as values: Be careful as God knows everything, He is everywhere, and He can do anything. All this information is downloaded in us from childhood. While there is nothing wrong with it, one must actualize God through experience.
“You must have seen how currency fluctuates, day and night. Why? The strength of the backing is changing. Earlier currency was backed by gold, whereas now currency is also backed by other things like oil reserves, country stability etc. Now, the value of currency is weaker without solid backing. Our knowledge also, without the backing of experience, will remain hollow. ‘Why do I believe in the God? Is it because my grandfather said so, or perhaps because the sacred scriptures say so? I must move away from just having belief in dogma. Belief can be good. It is not that I am going to deny the possibility that He exists, but I must actualize Him in my life. If God is omnipresent, let me see whether He is present everywhere or not. Can I experience His presence everywhere?’ Then something intrigues you.
“Religion is all about inculcating values – various values, starting with the presence of God. Now with this enquiring mind that we develop, we must now substantiate these values with worthwhile experience. And from then onwards change it to next level.
“Many-a-time I used to wonder, where will I go having experienced all these things? You experience the state of Samadhi, you experience various levels of ecstasy, various levels of meditations. What next? It is like money: you have made enough money, but there is a limit to it, no? In spirituality also, if I experience Samadhi, what next? But people say, ‘Oh, I was in a Samadhi-like state, when I was in such-and-such a temple, I was lost for two minutes. So what? You were lost for two minutes. You are millionaire in New York for one month. Big deal, right?
“So, the next step is becoming, instead of just experiencing things. You must have seen honeybees. If you put a pot of honey, they will immerse themselves in it and die. There is too much of a good thing. Experiences must motivate us to the next level. However profound our experiences may be, unless we become something out of an experience, it has not served its purpose, except to blow your trumpet and say, ‘Oh, I experienced Samadhi.’ So what? What have you become out of this? Are you pure-hearted? Have you lost your ego? Have you become empathetic and compassionate in your heart?
“Without these qualities, experiences will automatically still be downloaded into your system, but then you will still be playing with experience. In the same way that knowledge frustrates you without experience, now experience frustrates you without qualities: ‘Though I have such a beautiful condition I am yet to become compassionate.’ And let us say you are angry, for example, or irritated, because something is not going well in the business. If you try to meditate with such an irritated mind, that state of anger destroys your meditation. Per contra, what happens when you cultivate a subdued state where you feel insignificant in front of the Lord, when you have surrendered with your heart and you have become a true devotee in a genuine sense, when your authentic self has become so pure and you submit yourself to the Lord? That is becoming. And your experience that time will be the most profound one.
“Now you are able to compare your experience in one state versus in the other. So, you are slowly shifting in the spectrum of consciousness, right? So becoming is very important. Then there is some level of motivation – that if I become totally prapanna, surrendered to Lord, I will have such a blissful state. But that is still a transaction. In a true relationship there will not be transactions. I am becoming ‘this’ for ‘that reason’ is actually a blasphemous thing. You see?
“When you reach a stage where you say, ‘I don’t want bliss my Lord, only whatever comes in my life,” then a new chapter begins in life. The true spiritual journey begins when you have surrendered and detached yourself from bliss. The real journey starts then. In brief, this is The Heartfulness Way.”
Where does meditation lead?
There was a wonderful interchange between a newcomer to Heartfulness and Daaji. Here are some excerpts from this discussion:
Q: One basic question: are humans born for self-advancement or preaching to others or helping others?
Daaji: First, the priority of the moment is to perfect myself, purify myself. On the way, if I can help someone, I help. But if I don’t do it myself, and I go on preaching, then whom will I help? Can I say I am perfect enough to save the world? No. I’m also on the journey and the whole thing is infinite. If God is Infinity, then how can you say, ‘I have reached’? It’s never going to happen. The day you say, ‘I am perfect,’ have you become God? That is not going to happen because there is only one God.
Q: The doubt I used to have is this: if somebody is cleaning themselves, does it not mean they are self-centred?
Daaji: Not really. You are cleaning so that God can accommodate you more. I am emptying this glass so that there can be more water. I’m cleaning my heart from impurities so that the Lord can reside there peacefully. I’m accommodating, I’m creating something in me by undergoing the process of tapasya. Otherwise, what is the difference?
A vacuum can be created in the air because of heat. What is the vacuum that we create in the heart? For God’s Grace to descend into our heart, we must create a vacuum in the heart. And what is that which has occupied and filled my heart? Two major things – desire and ego. Little by little, if I can work on myself, purify myself, submit myself, taking the help of a Guru, surrendering to him – see how life changes. Then the Guru will remove the mask and God will come into the picture at some stage. His job is to hand you over to God and then you are home. It is not selfishness.
Can you give something to someone who is in need if you don’t have it yourself? Let us say, a person hasn’t eaten for three days but you don’t have any money in your pocket. Would you then say that earning money is a selfish act? It is your duty, otherwise your family will suffer, and you will suffer. And the ability you have to help someone else also suffers. By and large, we do these things to help our family and to support the main goal in life, the spiritual goal.
I always had the attitude towards earning money, that it would support my main activity. If I don’t earn enough, how will I go to the ashram? How will I travel from New York to Chennai or Shahjahanpur? So money is needed. Do you say that earning money is selfish? No, it is serving a higher purpose. If you are earning money for a lower purpose, if you are using it for the lower self, then it creates problem. You also need money for sensual pleasures. Here in Sahaj Marg, except for travels we don’t have other expenses. We don’t have any fees.
I often quote Babuji’s statement to newcomers, when they would ask him, “How much do you charge?” While Babuji was travelling in 1972, someone abroad gave him $50 in the US.
Babuji said, “What is this?” He did not even know what the dollar looked like. He was trying to read.
Then Chariji explained to him, “He is giving you money for your services.” Babuji said, “Please tell that boy that God is not for sale.”
Then later, somewhere he said that if God were for sale, how much would you pay? And if you could pay, why would you need God?
Daaji further added that rigorous practice is required, as if our life depends on it: “Three months – try it out and see where it takes you. You’ll be a different man in less than three months. But you must practice in the morning for half an hour, in the evening for 20 minutes, and before you go to bed, just five minutes of prayer.”
In a further conversation Daaji said, “One must transcend from dogmatic beliefs and become spiritual. Spirituality is all about experience. Then we must transcend that too, to what we call the field of Reality. Then that also must be transcended to bliss. It will come automatically. Then one day we have to say goodbye to bliss. It will happen that your heart will also get tired of it. ‘Enough of this weight of bliss’.”
Q: Sorry to ask, but I am very ignorant in all these things. I was born in a particular caste, and from my childhood I have always recited slokas for the sun god and Vishnu sahasranama every day. I have never missed doing this in my life. Without it I don’t start any activity. But over time, my mouth continues in its own way but my mind is somewhere else. Still, that continues. Now, I don’t know if I am doing justice to it or what I am doing.
Daaji: You know that you are not doing any justice to these practices. You don’t need my words. If your son is in 12th grade and he is reading but not absorbing anything, then he’s not doing justice to his studies. So, when I take up something, I must be fully absorbed in whatever I do. It must not be half-hearted. What makes a person succeed? It is about taking interest. Once you have the interest to accomplish what you cherish in your heart, nothing can prevent you. Thoughts or no thoughts, focus or no focus, in the end interest will carry you through.
If you want to realize God so badly, Ishwar sakshatkar, then it will happen. Do you want that thing to happen? Really, you’re dying, and you’re ready to give your life for it? Then it will happen. And in reality you don’t have to give your life. To give your life is actually easier than to get rid of ego and desire.
There are many fanatics who are ready and say, “Oh, sacrifice your life and you will be sent to heaven. It is easy to give your life and go straight to heaven. It has been inculcated into us. I personally believe that no one goes to heaven. That does not mean heaven doesn’t exist. When your heart is ready, when it is pure, the heavens will descend; Gods will descend into your heart. You don’t have to go anywhere: no Himalayas, no river bathing. The main thing is that this river bathing is symbolic, so purify your heart. Elevate yourself to the height of the Himalayas. The truthfulness in your heart changes you and your heart. That raises your heart.
Q: My Lord is Ranganatha. That’s where I was born and brought up. Every year I make it a point to go there for at least ten days. Somehow it gives me that power.
Daaji: It’s okay, continue. What happens is, when you adopt this meditation, the intensity of feeling his presence in your life will increase. You want to feel his presence, right? Ranganatha. Do you know him?
Q: I know him as a God.
Daaji: That is knowledge from outside. When we talk about Lord Krishna, who has seen Lord Krishna? Even when these people were with him – Duryodhana, Drona, Bhishma, Arjuna – the whole gang was there with him, nobody saw him as the Lord. Even when he showed his real Self to Arjuna, he said, “Please withdraw it. I cannot bear this.” So is Darshan of any use?
Darshan is another experience. Momentary. What will you do with it? I saw God. So what? Have you become anything as a result of it? We talk about renouncing the body, renouncing wealth, renouncing life, but there is no meaning to it. A beggar says, “I renounced.” An impotent man says that he has renounced and become celibate. It is futile. True renunciation will come when you can kick bliss and say, “I’m done with bliss also,” when you don’t even worry about God. Generally, the Godly presence is to invoke bliss and peace in your heart, but that is still playing with the senses at some level. That also has to go, and it will happen. In an infinite journey, it is not so difficult.
It suddenly speeds up. It takes a quantum leap only after this. When we have dropped everything – including the fancy ideas we have about God – no idea will justify a thought. It is infinity. What idea are you entertaining in your heart? Some form? Some quality? What else can you entertain?
So our attitude during meditation, and just before meditation should be, “My Lord, I don’t know you.” This must be there all the time. The moment you say, ‘I know’ then you’re not learning anything. Why do children learn faster than adults? Adults think they know everything, or they think that they don’t need to know. Two things prevent us from learning – ‘I know’ and ‘I don’t need to know’. Children don’t have these inhibitions, so our prayers can be to become like children. Actually, don’t even offer prayer. Become like a child and say, “My Lord, I would like to experience your presence, as I don’t know you. I have never experienced your presence. Help me.” Then something can happen.
But instead you say, “I am going to see Lord Krishna,” or if you are a Christian, “I would like to see Lord Jesus.” If you are a Ram bhakta, you say, “I would like to see Hanumanji first. It is more respectful to see Hanumanji first.” What will you do with all these? You are still playing with toys. And whatsoever you imagine of Hanuman or Lord Krishna or Lord Jesus will be as per your imagination only. And you will waste your meditation thinking and thinking and imagining things. You are playing with your imagination. But if instead it emerges in you as a feeling as, “This I am,” then it is a different story. Otherwise this roopa, this form, this akar; these are all toys.
Daaji covered the whole spectrum of the journey from religion to spirituality, to Reality, to bliss and beyond. He had touched on the role of belief, knowledge, experience, becoming and going beyond. He summarized the role of an aspirant, Guru and God in a simple and motivating language. Our new friend was more than willing to start meditation. In this session, he was able to see the possibility of evolution and what it means in one’s life.